Will Begin Screening Its Users Against Sex Offender Registry - Online Personals Watch: News on the Online Dating Industry and Business

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Sam Moorcroft,

How can you avoid creating a "false sense of security" to your members, when these checks "remain highly flawed"?

Saïd Amin

not sure what the monetary cost will be for operators but it's a significant differentiator within the dating industry (casual vs more serious minded sites that decide to embrace this) and social networking sites.

sam, yes, the checks are indeed flawed but it's better than nothing and likely would have prevented the unfortunate alleged sexual assault case in los angeles.

Fernando Ardenghi

Mr. Brooks, do you remember the Jana Claudia Gómez Menéndez case?
She was a Match free user killed by a paid member!

William Trickett Smith II (USA) met Jana (Perú) via Match where she joined for FREE and he PAID to contact her.
William Trickett Smith II married Jana Claudia Gómez Menéndez in March 2007.
The body of the 21-year-old Peruvian woman was found stuffed inside a suitcase that washed up on a beach at Lima in mid-August of 2007, less than six months after she married Smith following an Internet romance. Smith is the only suspect in her death.

In January 2011, hacking incidents at PlentyOfFish, eHarmony and Meetic (not publicized) occured.
Then a Lawsuit against Match claims more than half Of Match profiles are inactive or fake.

I remember The whitepaper CONSUMERS ARE HAVING SECOND THOUGHTS ABOUT ONLINE DATING; written by the company WeAttract (no longer exist) during 2005, but still valid

" ..... it should not be too surprising that online dating may have unanticipated consequences.
In fact, studies of major technologies and inventions ... have found a repeated pattern of:
-Intensity of spread and excitement.
-Disaster or highly publicized damage is observed.
-Reform occurs in the industry.
-Vigilance by industry and consumers become necessary.

If online dating follows this trend, we can expect problems to arise that will bring the intensity period to an end. This is not an inevitable cycle. The question for the online dating industry is: What level of disaster will it take to lead to reform and new guidelines in the industry? Will the disaster have to occur on your own site before you make changes?

ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) is a concept used in nuclear safety.

I think Legislation (Identity Verification / Background Checks) and Quality Norms ISO 9001:2008 certification could lead to reach the ALARA concept for the Online Dating Industry.
i.e. the probability of being scammed, raped, murdered, stalked, etc. using a specific Online Dating Site needs to be as low as the probability of being scammed, raped, murdered, stalked, etc. using real/traditional places like parks, schools, bars, libraries, discos, etc. for dating purposes.

Sam Moorcroft,

Fernando, who says the probability of these awful things you referenced happening to someone who met someone online *isn't as low* as someone meeting someone in a real/traditional place? How do you know it isn't a fraction of the offline world?

Or, do you have stats that the rest of us don't? If so, please share them with us.

If not, then please don't make such outlandish claims.

Mark Brooks

The industry has been hung on the subject of bg checks for years since TRUE introduced them in 2004.

High end matchmakers use bg checks.

Free dating sites are chewing up more market share BG checks are a good differentiator against the free dating sites, social dating sites and social networks.

Peter Stolz

Here's what I see as the issues against Internet dating websites screening their members using the national sexual offender database, as says they are going to do.

1- Dating websites can only screen their paying members because they don't have the names of non paying members.

2- Dating websites can only screen the name the member used to pay with, but the user of the site may not be the owner of the credit card or checking account, which is not that uncommon.

3- Internet dating websites are just meeting places, no different from any bar, night club, singles dance, or any other place people used to meet before Internet dating existed. Unlike those places where finding out more about the person before you meet is impossible, on Internet dating websites you have all the time and resources possible available to you before you meet. You have the chance to email and call each other as much as you want to find out more information and to get to know the person a lot better before meeting. You can also Google the person. And you can even do a criminal background check yourself if it's important enough to you, for a relatively small cost.

4- If Internet dating websites were to screen all their members against the sexual offender database, it would be giving women a false sense of security because sexual offenders would just resort to giving false names, using stolen credit cards, or paying by pre-paid cards or money orders. Sexual offenders know they are on the database and therefore are not going to give their real names. So the very ones who you are screening for are the ones who will almost never be found or kept off the site. But women will assume that every man on the site has been screened and will then have a false sense of security and be less careful themselves.

5- The bottom line is that on an Internet dating website you are safer and have more time and opportunity to check a man out yourself before meeting him than you ever did before when you could only meet people at clubs and bars and similar places where you knew absolutely nothing about them and had no time or opportunity to get to know them better before you met them.

Peter Stolz

Mark Brooks

TRUE only ever did background checks on paying members. When the only communication takes place between paying members, that's all you need to worry about.

The best information a dating site can take is social security number. Next to that, name, address, date of birth are enough to get a positive id on most people. It's up to dating sites to keep on insisting on more information until an id is made. I wonder how match is getting around the 'I used my friend's credit card' problem. It probably doesn't come up too often.

Despite having a myriad of research tools available online, they still wire money to scammers. The guard goes down when love strings are being played. The rules are pretty simple, and yet people continually break them.

Rules of 1st internet dates
1. Meet in a public place
2. Don't give out contact info until you're ready
3. Let someone know when/where you're going

Internet dating sites endeavor to improve on the real world. These checks are flawed, but they're better than nothing.'s move is a step in the right direction. Will the industry follow suit I wonder?

Peter Stolz

I would like to find someone who will offer the background checks at a small costs as HonestyOnline was going to do and give the site owners a rev share.

But unlike HonestyOnline that only offered the certification to the member, I would like to find someone who will offer the background check to the women so they can check out the man they are interested in meeting, if the man will give them his name and whatever other info is required to do the check.

If he won't then the choice is up to the woman whether to meet him or not. This way it puts the responsibility back on the woman to protect herself if it's important enough to her and if she doesn't it defeats her ability to sue the site if something bad happens. And at the same time the site owner gets a rev share.

Mark Brooks

Ask a woman how she feels about this interchange. She'll tells you it feels awkward.

Instead, she'll just go to a site that offers background checks so she doesn't have to worry about asking for id, ss#, dob, last three addresses. Ick. What a mood killer.

She'll just head to Which is why this move by is good for their business IMHO.


Getting raped/attacked/robbed/etc can happen to anyone, whether you meet someone at a bar, workplace, through mutual friend or on the street... should bars do background checks on people before they walk in?

It sucks this happened to someone but attacking Match is completely unnecessary.


I totally believe this will be a deterrent to most. There will always be someone who will try or will slip through. I can't imagaine many women in this day and age who would have a false sense of security just because their dating service screens for sex offenders. But it has to start somewhere. Thank you for doing this. My brother used you and met the woman of his dreams and they now live in Mexico each with their soulmates, so they say. So good for you to be the first. And they are married (4 years)in love.

Jonathan Crutchley,

You silly heterosexuals! All this fuss over safety and screening. See what happens when you have female customers? I'm not saying that the gay guys using Manhunt are careless about whom they meet, but (for men) hooking up has an element of danger that heightens the sexual fantasy of the whole experience. Knowing too much about the prospective trick would make it less exciting for some.

Saïd Amin

Article might be of interest for some of you: "Why Effort to Screen Sex Offenders Won't Work"

Saïd Amin

Correct link:

Fernando Ardenghi

Please Sam, read the article "The horse named Jim in the Online Dating Industry." in my blog.


At Match Japanese version, the daters can add up to 7 certificates to increase reliability of their profiles.
They are;
Human proof: a copy of driver's license, health insurance, passports.
Address proof: inhabitant vote, invoices from different services.
Working proof: Employee proof
Earnings proof: The withholding certificate which can prove the earnings of the preceding year, the final return, either one of the certificates for paid taxes.
Graduation proof: Diploma or graduation certificate.
Celibacy proof: The celibacy certificate from certificate for marriage information service / marriage consultation trader.
Credit card proof: When charge service of match is purchased (purchase with credit card certification), credit card proof becomes effective.

Why Match does not make the same at the USA site?

Mark Brooks

HYPOTHESIS: The upkeep of the sex offender registries should become more of a priority as more sites and services demand more accuracy and more frequent updates. The more money that flows from dating sites to the companies that maintain the registries, the better they should become over time.



First off,for Peter....if you are not a paying member on Match you have absolutely no way to communicate with anyone other than winking AT THEM and then you have to pay to communicate IF they respond so that leaves all the unpaid profiles from having to be screened.That being said I'm pretty sure as of this moment you can still join Match with a mailed in money order and use any name you want.So that's that.

No matter what they do it will still give a false sense of security.What percentage of the millions of men on Match ARE on the sex offender registry? Maybe .000001%??
Let's just say "men" because we all know there's no such thing as "female sex offender's" other than teachers that mess with high school boys and sadly no one cares about them or if they're on a dating site of adults for the most part.If a sex offender really wants to be on Match or any other site HE STILL WILL BE.

What happened to this woman is sad but like someone else said,if she met the guy at an upscale restaurant bar and this happened should the bar screen every guy that walks in from now on? Of course not. There's a billion people that meet from dating sites everyday all over the world, .0000000001% of the time something bad happens so we're going to change the industry because of it? I doubt it will do anything.What's next banning anyone with a felony? A misdemeanor? A DUI?? I don't have a problem with Match doing it for sex offenders but what Match Japan does is just wrong if that's the way it is over there,that's a blatant invasion of privacy.

Here's an idea,let's background check all the women for mental health issues so we can screen out all the ones that are on medication and seeing a therapist for whatever problems they have.Yes,I know .....that's ridiculous as well.Probably not a good analogy either. Where will the line be drawn?


I though MySpace had to get rid of all sex predators. They settled with the Conn DA. So social networks do use background checks.


Sounds reasonable enough but how reliable is it? Are they reporting a better success rate of screening?


The 64,000 dollar question. I think the answer is yes especially if the see one of the major players doing it. But then again there's going to be more than a few who resent having to spend the time and money to implement it.

Sam Moorcroft,

How does Match protect against all those sinister Canucks and Brits and Aussies and Europeans? What happens if an American member meets a perverted Cdn? Where is the supposed protection there (besides this protection being highly flawed in the US, as per Match's own admission, and potentially providing a false sense of security)?

This is a serious issue, as Match makes so much of their revenue these days from paying members outside the US.

And, what happens if, in spite of their US screening, another American has something terrible happen to them (from an American member)? Is Match *definitely* culpable this time?

It seems to me that Match has opened Pandora's Box, all likely because of some in-house legal opinion that it is cheaper to do this supposed check now than to fight a lawsuit, not only legally, but also in the court of public opinion - which is bad for the brand. And, more costly than simply settling out of court, including this change.

Find Me Dates

Is this not just a knee jerk reaction, by a company running scared, in a country obsessed with litigation?! Getting raped/attacked/robbed/etc. can happen to anyone, whether you meet someone online or offline...if you only date offline (to be safe), do you really expect people to carry all this with them in a restaurant/bar/club?

Human proof, Address proof, Working proof, Earnings proof, Graduation proof, Celibacy proof, Credit card proof.

Does the "working proof", or "graduation proof", prove that a man ISN'T going to be a rapist?! IS it the case that no rapes are committed by men in work, with a fixed address, a credit card, or who are graduates?!

Surely the fact that millions of people in the US carry guns is something to be more worried about!!!!!

Lawrence Chernin

This reminds me of Match's original intention of creating - which was to have feedback on dates so members had some idea of the real person behind the profile. Unfortunately that didn't go very far and ultimately the plug was pulled.

Mark Brooks

This was quite a rich thread on background checks 9 years ago. Where do we stand on background checks now?

I think the tech and online databases (felony, sex offender, etc) are far more up to date and evolved now. It always made sense to use background checks in some form within the stack of safety tech that we use in dating.

I've been working with RealMe (see for the last year and we've evolved a dating specific solution which merges the use of the best raft of databases and provides a general indication of reputation and safety for members to use. It doesn't disclose the specifics of a persons details, but just helps dating users get an indication of what is on the public record and even what is indicated from within social media, to give a sense of safety.

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